Whether or not you’re a fan of cycling, the news that the Tour de France would start in Yorkshire in July 2014 has to be a major coup for the region.
Although there are bound to be a few people who grumble about cost and disruption, Le Grand Départ will bring millions of spectators to line the route and visitors from around the world who will boost the economy and hopefully go back and tell friends and family about what Yorkshire has to offer. Many millions more will watch on TV, bringing the Yorkshire countryside, towns and villages to a worldwide audience.
Le Grand Départ takes place on 5 and 6 July 2014, with a route starting in Leeds, heading north through Ilkley and the Yorkshire Dales before dropping back down to Harrogate. On day two, the route will start in York, arc round to Keighley and run through Huddersfield and Holmfirth before ending in Sheffield.
Although I’d seen the media coverage of Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive Gary Verity encouraging everyone to “Back le Bid”, the scale of this event didn’t really hit home until I attended one of the road shows in April at Huddersfield Town Hall. Images, facts and figures about the town of Huddersfield, as well as all the tiny Yorkshire villages along the route, will be beamed by satellite across the world – from Kansas to Kathmandu.
As the Director of the Huddersfield Literature Festival, I was also very interested to hear of plans for a 100-day arts festival. The Arts Council has awarded £1m to the 100-day festival, and I hope that the organisers will partner with other established arts festivals in the region for maximum benefit to all.
At a time when obesity is on the rise, especially among the younger generation, anything that encourages a healthier lifestyle has to be a good thing – in this case “on your bike” will have positive connotations.
You can find out more at: www.letour.yorkshire.com; like the Le Tour Yorkshire page on Facebook; or follow on Twitter: @letouryorkshire.
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